UCLA's Magical NCAA Run Ends in Final Four Thriller
INDIANAPOLIS – Johnny Juzang scored a team-leading 29 points as No. 11-seed UCLA lost to No. 1-seed Gonzaga, 93-90, on a buzzer beater in overtime in the NCAA Tournament's Final Four on Saturday night.
Playing before a crowd of 8,131 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Bruins overcame a 90-85 deficit in the final minute of overtime. UCLA tied the game, 90-90 before Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs banked in a 3-point shot from just inside in the half-court line at the buzzer.
Juzang continued his remarkable postseason run with the Bruins (22-10), connecting on 12 of 18 shots from the field with a trio of 3-pointers. He also grabbed six rebounds.
UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. notched 19 points and rebounds. Cody Riley recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Tyger Campbell had 17 points and a team-high seven assists.
Gonzaga's Drew Timme scored 25 points and Joel Ayayi had 22 points and six rebounds.
The Bruins closed the season with a 22-10 record after having played most of their games without any fans in the stands. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was operating at partial capacity for the Elite Eight and Final Four games.
"Trust me, as a coach, I appreciate fans," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family Men's Head Basketball Coach. "Even when they're mad at me, because I just appreciate the fact that they're a fan, because we lost our fans this year – in all sports. You really miss it. So my message to our fans is get your season tickets. Let's get this pandemic over with and pack Pauley Pavilion and make UCLA a yearly elite program. That's what I came to UCLA for."
Against Gonzaga on Saturday, the Bruins trailed 45-44 at halftime after a back-and-forth first half. In fact, the first half had 11 lead changes and five ties.
Gonzaga had an early edge against UCLA, but never by more than three points in the first half.
Trailing 11-10, UCLA scored seven of the next nine points over the following three minutes on a pair of free throws and a jumper from Campbell and a Juzang three-pointer to go ahead 17-13 with 11:38 left in the first half.
After Gonzaga reclaimed the lead, 25-24, with just under nine minutes left in the first half, UCLA made another run, netting 10 of 13 to go up by a half-best six at 34-28 with five minutes left. Juzang scored half of the points on a trey and a jumper, with Jules Bernard also sinking a three. The Bruins led by four at 41-37 with two minutes left before Gonzaga ended the half on an 8-3 run to take a 45-44 edge to intermission.
Juzang scored 15 of the Bruins' 44 points in the first half, as UCLA made 15-of-26 field goals (57.7 percent) and four from beyond the arc. Campbell chipped in nine and Jaquez Jr. added eight. The Bruins out-rebounded the Bulldogs 14-11.
Gonzaga's lead swelled to as much as seven at 66-59 with 11:21 remaining in regulation before the Bruins closed the gap. Four points in a row from Campbell and a Juzang jumper cut the deficit to one. Back-to-back buckets from Campbell and Riley would give the advantage back to the Bruins at 73-70 with 5:14 left.
Down 79-77 with two minutes remaining, a Juzang jumper tied things up. After Gonzaga re-took the lead, Jaquez Jr. was fouled with 43 seconds left and made both free throws to again even things. The Bulldogs missed a three with 17 seconds remaining, but the Bruins were called for an offensive foul on their final possession of regulation, as the National Semifinal went into overtime.
Gonzaga (31-0) got its overtime lead up to five with 75 seconds remaining, but three-pointer by Jaquez Jr. with 48 seconds to play and a layup from Juzang with just 3.3 seconds left tied the game, 90-90.